At the crest of a hill six Huichol families live under tarps,old advertising banners Dagoberto Cirilo, an Adventist pastor and mission pilot, scavenged from the recent Mexican presidential election.
The heart of the Adventist Church's
ministry to them is the Huichol Flying Clinic, a Cessna 206 with which Pastor Cirilo
delivers medical and spiritual care, and takes to the hospital those who are seriously ill.
, realizing the crisis his
congregation faced, had flown in for the meeting, and he
now asked permission to address the tribal elders.He
explained their threats were illegal because the Mexican government protects freedom of religion.The believers were not uncooperative with the tribe, he
said; they wanted only to be excused from using hallucinogens and intoxicants.His
words only made them angrier."Are you willing to die for your faith?"one asked Cirilo
threateningly."Unquestionably," Cirilo replied."Who gave you permission to come here in the first place?"another challenged."There are at least five people here tonight whose lives have been saved because our flying clinic has been here," he
The leaders began speaking in Huichol so Cirilo
couldn't understand them.If any Huichol tried to translate, the elders taunted them: "You really don't belong here if you won't even speak your own language!"After conferring, the elders ordered the Flying Clinic to leave the area and not return."Thank you for the chance to serve you for 11 years," Cirilo
said."And if you ever have an emergency, just send word, and I'll come."
reported these events to the Mexican authorities, they temporarily halted the tribe's proceedings against the Christians.But threats continued.Cirilo
was falsely accused of destroying Huichol shrines.
With only a few days before the deadline, Cirilo
sadly told his
parishioners that the risk to their lives had become too great, and it would be best for them to leave.The village elders allowed each family two bags of clothes, bedding and cooking utensils, plus a corn mill.They left behind land, houses, crops, fences, and fruit trees,the labors of a lifetime.The Adventist families spent several weeks camping behind an Apostolic church, and several more at an Adventist camp meeting grounds.But they needed a place of their own.
In mid-2006 (through the mediation of Cirilo) another Huichol community, one more accepting of Western ways, granted them a small, undeveloped tract on the edge of the Aguas Milpas hydroelectric reservoir in the state of Nayarit.Other Huichol Christians have also been relocated to this area.